Friday, August 8, 2014

WEBALE NYO (2 Corinthians Chapter 9)

2 Corinthians 9:10-13, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others.”

The context of this passage is the appeal from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth to participate in the relief efforts for the church in Jerusalem.  Paul responded to that need by going to various churches and asking for their help.  Chapters 8 and 9 of this epistle have to do with this matter.

This text has gained a special place in my heart through our involvement in the ministry of Hope and Mercy Mission to our Christian brethren in the Masaka Region of Uganda.  Much help has been given by many and over the course of recent years the effort has grown to encompass over 100 pastors and village churches.  But the missionary effort is about more than just meeting needs, it is the activity of worship.

Underlying the gifts of God’s people in the meeting of needs is the source of those gifts, God Himself.  It is He who gladly supplies “seed to the sower and bread for food” (2 Corinthians 9:10).  He loves a “cheerful giver” because He gladly gives (Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7).  All that we possess—life, salvation, daily provision, and gifts to pass on—is sourced in Him (Cf. James 1:17).

His greatest gift to us is His own Son (Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:15; John 3:16).  By this “inexpressible gift” we are saved.  But the gift of salvation is also transformative for by it selfish sinners are transformed into selfless saints.  The born again are taught by God to love the brethren (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9) and to understand that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  There are a lot of people who give and do good things.  Humanitarian causes abound in our world.  And many give making no acknowledgement of Christ or His gospel.  But to give in Christ’s name—that’s a glorious thing!  To give “because of (one’s) submission that comes from (one’s) confession of the gospel of Christ” elevates giving to a higher plane and greater cause.  Those who give in Christ’s name understand that they are but conduits of grace in the cause of Christ.  They give according to God’s abundant provision to a cause, in the furtherance of the gospel, of eternal benefit.

Giving in Christ’s name is the activity of worship.  It both constitutes and engenders it.  The phrase “thanksgiving(s) to God” appears twice in this passage.  That’s the end result of this kind of Christ-like giving.  The giving itself constitutes an act of worship, but worship is there on the receiving end also.  The recipients recognize and acknowledge the source and thank Him for it.  Put simply, worship is acknowledging God for who He is and what He does in what we say and what we do (Cf. Hebrews 13:15-16).  The God who gladly gives—and who has given in His own Son an “immeasurable gift”—works through His children to provide.  That spirit of giving--in Christ’s name and by God’s grace—can be readily traced back to its source.  And He is praised and thanked for it.

 “Webale nyo” is the Lugandan phrase for “thank you very much.”  It is an expression we’ve heard countless times in our visits to Uganda.  In saying it, our Ugandan brethren were not just thanking us, they were thanking God.  We’ve heard it expressed to our teams throughout the conferences that we’ve been privileged by God to be a part of.  We’ve heard it expressed from pulpits and from ordinary folks both young and old.  With hearts overflowing with gratitude the people praise and thank God for HIs provision of all the various things that He has worked to provide through HIs people.  They say it all the time and struggle to find words to express the depth of their appreciation. 

Of course you don’t have to go to Uganda to give.  And you don’t have to be there to thank God for His provision.  Opportunities to worship—be it by giving or thanking—abound all around.  “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” for through that gift He has worked to transform rebels into worshippers (i.e. “givers” and “thankers”).  Around this world, in a plethora of languages, the great choir of God’s redeemed children ongoingly express their thanksgivings to Him.  It is but a foretaste of heaven, where people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” will sing a song of praise and “webale nyo” to God (Cf. Revelation 5:9-14).

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